A Design Contest with High Odds of Winning!

[John] wrote in to tell us about this contest hosted by Avnet. All one has to do is upload a video of their design to Avnet’s Youtube page.  There are four categories to choose from including: Solar, Communications, Transportation, and Entertainment. Four contestants can win an iPad2.

The only catch, if you can call it that, is that one would have to use at least one component from their “more than five million SKUs available.”  The thing that makes this contest more interesting than it usually would be is that there appears to be no contest entries as of August 24th. Official rules can be found on their site here.

The contest runs through the end of August, so there isn’t a lot of time to get a design together. However, it’s possible that you have something already built that fits into their product catalog. Make a 30-90 second video of it in action and you’ve got a (very good apparently) chance of winning an iPad2! Check out the contest video after the break. Continue reading “A Design Contest with High Odds of Winning!”

High Voltage Hacks: All About Electroluminescence

Although many might not know it, electroluminescent materials use high voltage, and thus qualify for our featured topic. Many may assume that these sheets work in the same way as LED lights, using low-voltage DC power.  This, however, is not the case, as they need around 100 volts of AC current to allow them to light up.

For a battery-powered solution, this means converting the battery’s DC power to AC. Adafruit has a good tutorial about working with EL wire and powering it up using a portable inverter. One should obviously be careful to properly insulate any clothing using this material as being shocked is generally not fun.

The video after the break is pretty long, but is well produced and will give you a good background of EL use. If you don’t have 30 minutes to dedicate to this, be sure to at least skip to 2:43 to see one of the coolest EL shirts we’ve seen. Continue reading “High Voltage Hacks: All About Electroluminescence”

Vintage phone has a dirty Android secret


Instructables user [apple_fan] likes vintage telephones from the early 1900s, but while they are nice to look at, they’re clearly not too useful nowadays. He decided to change that, and retrofitted an old operator-dialed telephone with some modern amenities.

He gutted the phone, stripping out the large electromagnets and capacitor that were once used to facilitate placing and receiving calls. He added an Archos 28 tablet to the box, wiring it an IOIO board, allowing him to interface it with his Android phone. The old microphone and speaker were swapped out for updated components, and a new ringer actuator was built to replace the bulky old unit. The tablet and ringer, along with the rest of the components were then carefully hidden away inside the box as not to alter the aesthetics.

To place and receive calls, he installed CMU Sphinx on the Archos tablet, allowing him to interact with the phone using voice recognition, as if he was talking to a live operator.

It’s a pretty neat project, and while we might have opted for a small micro combined with a Bluetooth headset, [apple_fan] makes it clear why he made the hardware decisions he did. We’re always up for letting people show us a different way to get a job done, so we’re down with that.

Check out a short video demo of the phone in action after the jump.

Continue reading “Vintage phone has a dirty Android secret”